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CrossfireX Preview: Old Gunplay for Simpler Times (XB1)

CrossfireX mixes different styles of gameplay together in a way that feels somehow wrong and right simultaneously. On one hand, the gratuitous violence and over-the-top action feels fun. On the other hand, the spawn trapping, clunky movement, and overall lack of polish don’t feel fun at all.

CrossfireX Preview: Old Gunplay for Simpler Times Cover

It must be hard to survive as an up-and-coming first-person shooter. Much like a newbie trying to get into the competitive scene of multiplayer shooter games, new games on the market have a tendency to get overwhelmed by the behemoths of the genre. They just don’t stand a chance against the tried and true, if not formulaic, shooting mechanics of Call of Duty, Battlefield, or Counterstrike. If smaller studious manage to stand a chance against the well-oiled machines of triple-A titles, they have to play the game a little differently. And different is exactly how I would describe the beta for CrossfireX.

This new multiplayer title created by Smilegate is available for limited time play on Xbox One from June 25th through the 28th.

Story: Under Construction

This game doesn’t have a story – yet. However, Remedy, the creators behind critically acclaimed games such as Control, Alan Wake, and Quantum Break, are crafting the single player experience in CrossfireX. This is pretty shocking to me, as those games don’t seem to be anything like the frantic, ridiculous action of the multiplayer segment. I’m afraid these might seem like two very different games when the full version finally does come out. And I have to say, from my experience with multiplayer, I’m looking forward to single player more.

Gameplay: Balance Issues

Multiplayer is where this game really wants to shine and catch on. The original Crossfire has been around for a while – since 2007 – and has garnished one of the world’s largest population of players. The makers behind CrossfireX aren’t new to multiplayer, but they are not making multiplayer new, either.

There's always a Rex as an operator

There’s always a Rex as an operator

There are three modes available in the beta. The first is a mode very similar to Counterstrike: one team plants the bomb, the other defends the bombsites. The first to eliminate the bomb site or other team wins the round. There’s nothing new and refreshing here aside from gameplay mechanics and weapons that one must get used to. As in similar games, there is no sprinting and ADS is limited to sniper rifles. If CrossfireX is hoping to dethrone the reigning champions of this genre, then it will be up against steep competition.

Switching it up

The second, more interesting style of gameplay puts a spin on the classic search-and-destroy mode by adding an entire team of operators that have camouflage suits which blend in with the environment around them. It’s not the first time we’ve seen this implemented in multiplayer before. The wavy, shimmering outline of players running towards you for the kill has raised the blood pressure of gamers since the original Halo

Now you see me...

Now you see me…

However, the near-invisible attacking team has a major handicap: they are only equipped with melee weapons. The results of this are interesting, although I found through my playing of this mode that getting accurate hits with melee weapons and CrossfireX’s control input is difficult. The frustration is expanded by the fact that melee weapons are not one-hit kills, rather they require several to kill an enemy. By that time, your opponent or their teammate is alerted to your position and is shooting you before you can line up another swing. While it was fun, I didn’t feel that stealth was properly rewarded due to damage ratios and balancing issues. The operators with real weapons definitely have the advantage in this mode. However, like the other classic playlist mode, sprinting and ADS is not permitted which gives the invisible attackers a little bit of a break at longer ranges. 

Domination

Finally, the last mode available to play during the beta is the modern playlist. This gives a much more traditional experience as you might find in Call of Duty’s domination or Battlefield’s conquest modes. Capturing and holding the objectives adds to the score count, further securing one’s chances for victory. The regulations and red tape for what is allowed in the more restrictive classic modes are thrown away for full fledged chaos. ADS, sprinting, and dashing from here to there are all there to party in this death-laden pandemonium.

Pure chaos

Pure chaos

There’s a bit of a twist on this particular map in the modern playlist, and that is at some point, one must hook onto a line and zip line down to the hotel roof below. So essentially, there are two gameplay segments—one inside the hotel, and the next on the lower roof of the hotel. Both of these involve areas that need to be captured and held for points. Here, the changing battle elements taken from the Battlefield series of games can be seen directly.

Spawn me not

CrossfireX needs a bit of work on the spawn points. During every match, I had issues with enemies being actively inside our spawn when returning. No one should have to suffer getting blasted the instant they respawn by someone who is already aiming at the place they knew you will reappear. Spawn re-works and minor map changes are definitely needed. There were times that our spawn was so well covered by enemy advances, sniper fire, and bottlenecks that there was literally nothing you could do but just die in an endless loop cycle. That’s not fun.

Maps have some bottleneck issues

Maps have some bottleneck issues

Guns need balancing, as well. You quickly could tell which were the one-shot wonders that people utilized to their full advantage. I used a mixture of marksman rifles, assault rifles, shotguns, and light machine guns, and while none of the guns I used felt particularly overpowered aside from perhaps the Lewis gun, there were definitely trends of weapons that could be found popping up in the feed over and over again. Namely, the short-barreled sniper rifle. 

Mobility Issues

Movement can feel a bit stiff. Games, especially first person shooters, have come a long way in the way players traverse the field. All one must do is look at modern titles such as Apex Legends and Call of Duty to realize that in fast-paced games, movement is a survival skill second only to good aim. You can jump, crouch, and sprint in CrossfireX, but your legs feel like wooden planks. There’s a robotic stiffness to movement that is better felt than explained. Simply put, dying in a fair fight through gunplay is part of the game. But dying because one cannot mount over a knee-high wall is frustrating. 

Why, hello!

Why, hello!

Speaking of movement, there are perks that can be gained throughout the match called “tactical growth”.  These give the player a variety of bonuses or abilities to take advantage of. They must be manually activated using one of the directional keys. Combined, and stacked with melee weapons, a player can turn into a ridiculously fast moving blur through the battlefield.

Graphics: Need a prescription

I’m not one to pick on graphics. If a game is good, it’s good. However, downscaling in CrossfireX literally affects the gameplay. Textures are blurry and view distance is abysmal. I understand that the current console generations are getting old. Video downscaling is done in nearly every title, but I rarely see it as bad as CrossfireX. It’s so bad, I instinctively kept thinking I didn’t have my glasses on. Some people are less sensitive to this, but I got a headache if I didn’t take incremental breaks. It’s been reported among some users that downscaling is better on the Xbox One X. However, users of the original Xbox One or S should be aware of this issue.

That character model on the left looks like something from 20 years ago

That character model on the left looks like something from 20 years ago

Something that CrossfireX gets right is the death animations of downed enemies. When shot, enemies go flying through the air, resulting in physically impossible, but often hilarious results. It makes the bullet impacts feel that much more powerful and lends to the spirit of the game. Most of the time, when I smiled in CrossfireX, it was because I sent someone sprawling with my shotgun.

Look down the sights and you'll see a tiny man doing backflips

Look down the sights and you’ll see a tiny man doing backflips

Sound: Loud gun noises

The sound design is appropriate. I’m always under the impression that good sound should flow under the radar. It should make the environment feel as natural as possible without getting in the way or leaving too much out. The weapon sounds in CrossfireX might seem a bit cookie-cutter. However, they don’t distract you from the task at hand. I never had an instance when I thought I was a disadvantage because of poor sound design.

CrossfireX was previewed on the Xbox One during the beta weekend June 25th – 28th. 

Summary
CrossfireX feels old. The nostalgia for gameplay from the simpler times only holds out so long before the desire for better movement, gunplay, and graphics brings you back to the modern champions of first person shooters. It’s not a bad game in and of itself, but it doesn’t look great when standing next to Call of Duty.
Good
  • Adrenaline-filled gunplay
  • Nostalgic throwback to early shooters
  • Satisfying kills
Bad
  • Poor visual quality on Xbox One S
  • Limits on mobility
  • Gun and spawn balancing issues

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